How many times have you heard the words, "If you love me you will trust me" or "Why don't you just trust me?"
I don't know how those words feel in your gut but they always fill me with even more distrust than I was originally feeling.
Of course any admonitions that you "should" feel trust are designed to circumvent your internal warning system. Whether that is accomplished with assurances or threats or attempts to shame you doesn't really matter. The end result is the same. You are being asked to ignore your feelings and adopt the perceptions which are more convenient for the other person.
Many couples whose relationships are in crisis, have experienced a profound loss of trust. However, a lack of trust can effect even the best of relationships. Your relationship need not suffer an infidelity nor a litany of lies for the trust to die. Really the most effective way to destroy trust is to simply stop empathizing with your partner.
When our expressed emotions seem to fall upon deaf ears or worse, a cold heart, our ability to trust is severely compromised. If the situation persists over the course of months or years, trust eventually dies, leaving only the pretense of intimacy.
How then do we restore trust when it has died?
This is perhaps the biggest obstacle I encounter in my work with couples. I find the only way through the emotional permafrost of entrenched distrust is to create a genuine heart connection. Utilizing a combination of intuition and specific communication techniques, I know no better feeling than witnessing the restoration of trust and understanding where once there was contempt and grief.
Getting there takes some work, though.
A first step is to create a safe container for conflict. Every human connection experiences conflict from time to time and it is extremely helpful when both partners agree to the basic format of conflict resolution which they intend to use. Most professional advice on conflict resolution for couples delineates similar "rules for fair fighting." And most couples will agree on the basic premises expressed in these guidelines but tend to have different perceptions about where the line should be drawn as well as how their own behavior conforms or deviates from the agreed upon standards.
Since perceptions can be very subjective and subject to individual denial, it can be helpful to video a few of your attempts at conflict resolution. Once you see yourself on camera, you may be shocked to learn what your behavior looks like from the outside. After all, we only know how it feels inside and sometimes our emotions are so overwhelming that we conveniently overlook or forget the destructive behaviors which we perpetrate during a conflict.
Below is a basic outline of the important guidelines for creating safety during conflict.
Guidelines for Conflict Resolution for Couples:
1. No Name Calling or Swearing
2. No Yelling